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Sunday,19-September-2021

International

Brought out the sweep shot after 13-14 years: Ravichandran Ashwin

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India off-spinner R Ashwin, who scored his fifth Test century after a five-wicket haul to help India take the stranglehold of the second Test, said he brought out his sweep shot for the first time after well over a decade.

“After the last Test, we were thinking on how to counter [Jack] Leach and start bringing sweep to the game. The last time I was sweeping was probably when I was 19 years old; hit a couple of sweep shots, got dropped from the side, and maybe never played a sweep for the last 11, maybe 13-14 years. I’ve been practicing that shot for the last week to 10 days. Very, very thankful that the plan has really paid off,” Ashwin, who scored 106 to help India make 286 in the second innings and set a target of 482 runs for England, said after the third day’s play.

Ashwin credited India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour, a former India opener, for improvement in his batting.

“We have been practicing along with Vikram Rathour. Rathour has been very, very helpful trying to explore new options. He is someone who is facilitating me to go out there and be able to express myself, explore various options. I would love to credit him for how my batting has gone through the last four-five Test matches. He has kept me in the loop, said I have been batting very well. He asked me not to overthink but just look at the gameplan,” he disclosed.

Ashwin added that the big target has helped them be able to attack the batsmen with fielders around the bat.

“The wicket is such that you have to get runs square of the wicket. Sort of had a very, very good day. We posted a very good score. Now we can really attack with men around the bat,” said Ashwin.

“I think in the past when I have made my hundreds in India, Ishi [Ishant Sharma] has been a sort cog in the wheel. He has been with me twice when I made my hundred. He sort of understands how I go about it. Ishi was defending well. So, I thought I need to take calculated risks as long as he was there. But once Siraj came, I knew I had to get it done in a few overs. But I was super thrilled how he batted and hit the ball out of the ground,” he said smilingly.

On Siraj’s celebration after his hundred, Ashwin said: “Quite a funny thing [to see him] excited when I got to my hundred. That says a thing or two how the dressing room has been. Lived a dream over the past three-four months.”

Earlier, on Sunday, Ashwin became the first player in the 143-year history of Test cricket to take 200 wickets against left-handed batsmen. Fast bowler Stuart Broad was the 200th left-hander he dismissed.

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Coach Shastri hints that he might step down after T20 World Cup

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 Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri has given a big hint that he is likely to step down from the hot seat after the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman when he said that “I believe one thing — never overstay your welcome.”

Shastri, who was squarely criticised for launching his new book in London and spreading the Covid-19 virus among the support staff two days before the fourth Test at The Oval, said on Saturday, “I believe so because I’ve achieved all I wanted,” when asked whether the ICC T20 World Cup would be his last outing with Team India as chief coach.

“Five years as No 1 (in Test cricket), to win in Australia twice, to win in England. I spoke to Michael Atherton earlier this summer and said: ‘For me, this is the ultimate — to beat Australia in Australia and win in England in Covid times.’ We lead England 2-1 and the way we played at Lord’s and the Oval was special,” Shastri told The Guardian.

“We’ve also beaten every country in the world in their own backyard in white-ball cricket. If we win the (T20) World Cup that will be the icing on the cake. There is nothing more. I believe one thing –never overstay your welcome. And I would say that, in terms of what I wanted to get out of the side, I’ve over-achieved. To beat Australia away and to lead the series in England in a Covid year? It is the most satisfying moment of my four decades in cricket,” said Shastri.

Within days of the book-launch function, where no masks were worn, Shastri had tested Covid-positive and went into isolation along with four members of his support staff. And when assistant physio Yogesh Parmar too tested positive, the players became anxious and finally the fifth and final Test in Manchester had to be called off.

“It was funny because in my 10 days I didn’t have a single symptom barring a little sore throat. I never had any temperature and my oxygen level was 99% all the time. I didn’t take any medication through 10 days of my isolation, not a single paracetamol. I tell the guys: ‘Once you’re double jabbed, it’s a bloody 10-day flu. That’s it,'” said Shastri.

On whether he discussed the emerging situation with players, Shastri replied, “No. I didn’t know who had got it (Covid-19). I didn’t know (the physio) got it suddenly and tested positive. He physically treated five or six players. I think that’s where the issue started. We were aware that the incubation period meant that someone might get it in the middle (of the Test). A lot of players had their families there. So it became a situation where you don’t know what that player is thinking. He’s got a young kid, you know, he’s got to think of them. It was a little, I would say, touchy.”

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Coach Shastri hints that he might step down after T20 World Cup

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Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri has given a big hint that he is likely to step down from the hot seat after the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman when he said that “I believe one thing — never overstay your welcome.”

Shastri, who was squarely criticised for launching his new book in London and spreading the Covid-19 virus among the support staff two days before the fourth Test at The Oval, said on Saturday, “I believe so because I’ve achieved all I wanted,” when asked whether the ICC T20 World Cup would be his last outing with Team India as chief coach.

“Five years as No 1 (in Test cricket), to win in Australia twice, to win in England. I spoke to Michael Atherton earlier this summer and said: ‘For me, this is the ultimate — to beat Australia in Australia and win in England in Covid times.’ We lead England 2-1 and the way we played at Lord’s and the Oval was special,” Shastri told The Guardian.

“We’ve also beaten every country in the world in their own backyard in white-ball cricket. If we win the (T20) World Cup that will be the icing on the cake. There is nothing more. I believe one thing –never overstay your welcome. And I would say that, in terms of what I wanted to get out of the side, I’ve over-achieved. To beat Australia away and to lead the series in England in a Covid year? It is the most satisfying moment of my four decades in cricket,” said Shastri.

Within days of the book-launch function, where no masks were worn, Shastri had tested Covid-positive and went into isolation along with four members of his support staff. And when assistant physio Yogesh Parmar too tested positive, the players became anxious and finally the fifth and final Test in Manchester had to be called off.

“It was funny because in my 10 days I didn’t have a single symptom barring a little sore throat. I never had any temperature and my oxygen level was 99% all the time. I didn’t take any medication through 10 days of my isolation, not a single paracetamol. I tell the guys: ‘Once you’re double jabbed, it’s a bloody 10-day flu. That’s it,'” said Shastri.

On whether he discussed the emerging situation with players, Shastri replied, “No. I didn’t know who had got it (Covid-19). I didn’t know (the physio) got it suddenly and tested positive. He physically treated five or six players. I think that’s where the issue started. We were aware that the incubation period meant that someone might get it in the middle (of the Test). A lot of players had their families there. So it became a situation where you don’t know what that player is thinking. He’s got a young kid, you know, he’s got to think of them. It was a little, I would say, touchy.”

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Heather Knight shines as England Women win opening ODI vs New Zealand

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 Veteran England star and captain Heather Knight slammed a 107-ball 89 and Katherine Brunt scored a quick 43 as the hosts powered to a 30-run victory in the opening One-day International against New Zealand Women at the County Ground here.

Sent in to bat on Thursday evening, England were bowled out for 241 in the 50th over, with captain Knight (89) leading the way alongside Tammy Beaumont (44) and Brunt (43).

That proved 30 runs too many for New Zealand, as Brunt (1/22) and the England attack squeezed them out of the game, eventually bowling them out for 211 in the 47th over.

England were put in to bat first by New Zealand and got off to a good start. Openers Lauren Winfield-Hill and Beaumont capitalised on the bad balls and kept the scoreboard ticking. They were going strong at 44 in the ninth over when Hannah Rowe (1/47) struck, removing Winfield-Hill on 21 via a faint nick through to the keeper.

Her wicket did little to slow down the scoring as captain Knight joined Beaumont at the crease. The duo forged a strong partnership and soon took England past the 100-run mark in the 22nd over.

Just as it looked like England were going to reach top gear, Sophie Devine (2/57) provided New Zealand with the second breakthrough, ending the half-century stand. Beaumont fell just six runs short of a fifty, struck in front of the middle stump.

Two overs later, Natalie Sciver (2) fell to the returning Lea Tahuhu (2/32). She also picked up the wicket of Amy Jones (2) in the 30th over and Jess Kerr (3/42) got Sophia Dunkley (5) in the 32nd over to reduce England to 140/5.

Despite the regular fall of wickets, Knight continued to take on the New Zealand bowlers. She paired with Brunt to push England past 220. The 88-run stand was broken by Leigh Kasperek (1/48) in the 47th over when she caught and bowled Knight for 89.

The remaining four England wickets fell for 13 runs as the hosts were bowled out for 241.

New Zealand were in trouble early in the chase as Sciver (2/10) accounted for Suzie Bates (1) and Lauren Down (5) inside the opening 10 overs.

The pressure continued to mount as Kate Cross (2/37) had Maddy Green (19) caught at slip in the 13th over to reduce New Zealand to 31/3. The duo of Amy Satterthwaite (79*) and captain Sophie Devine (34) rebuilt the innings in a 78-run stand but just as they were getting back into the game, Cross struck again, removing the Kiwi skipper for 34 in the 29th over.

Wickets fell at regular intervals from there as New Zealand slipped to 143/8, with Sophie Ecclestone (2/39) on a hat-trick at one point after removing Katey Martin (9) and Brooke Halliday (0).

Brief scores: England Women 241 in 49.3 overs (T Beaumont 44, H Knight 89, K Brunt 43; J Kerr 3/42, S Devine 2/57) beat New Zealand Women 211 in 46.3 overs (A Satterthwaite 79 not out, S Devine 34; N Sciver 2/10, K Cross 2/37, S Ecclestone 2/39) by 30 runs.

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